Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rep.Brian Gosch responds on HB 1277-1278

(The exchange below was about current legislation headed to State Affairs Committee: HB 1277 and 1278).

Dear Rep. Gosch:

Thanks for your involvement Brian.

I understand the distinction. I don't promote defamation and recognize that it is not protected speech. But like Cory Heidelberger (new post and comments worth reading:

I don't see what good these bills can accomplish, and I see a lot of potential harm.

Part of the beauty of the internet is that there is so much garbage out there that one has to build a reputation and a following to be taken seriously at all. This is a great force of nature -- for example although wikipedia's articles have been edited to try to defame folks, and google's searches have been "google-bombed" -- owners and members of those online communities have taken steps to police their own ranks, so there really is no problem.

I might add, these bills may both conflict with Sec 230 of the Communicatoions Decency Act of 1996) which hold content providers harmless for what users post -- this perhaps could even get us into a Federal lawsuit.

One more thing-- I just don't see anonymous posts as that big a defamation threat as compared to, say, loose anonymous (and non-anonymous) comments to the press by Rapid City council members about fellow members. (!)

I urge your colleagues to put both these bills away - or just do a study over the summer to see if a solution can be reached that may help the problem.... if there is one...


On Sat, Feb 6, 2010 at 8:04 PM, wrote:
I talked to the sponsors of the bills.  The intent was to try and bring the postings to a blog to the same level of letters to the editor for purposes of defamation suites.  Letters to the editor have an identifiable person.  Many times, postings to a blog do not.
It would be legal to post, "in my opinion, Jane Doe is the worst CEO ABC, Inc has ever had."  It would be illegal to post, "rumor has it that Jane Doe is embezzling money from ABC, Inc and oh, by the way, I hear she beats her husband."
There may be some unintended consequences with these bills.  A healthy debate on them should ferret out the problems resulting in either defeating them or correcting them.

1 comment:

  1. Does Rep. Gosch think we don't understand what defamation is? It's sounding more and more like this really is strictly an effort to stick it to bloggers and dictate our comment moderation policies.